Four Bad Cooking Habits to Kick Immediately

Are your bad habits holding your food back? The little things you do every day in your kitchen without thinking might be ruining otherwise great dishes, creating results ranging from embarrassing #NailedIt debacles to life-threatening food poisoning.

If you want to level up your home cooking, here are four common food-prep practices you need to steer clear of, starting now:

Came Through Drippings

Yes, it’s a pain to dispose of oil and fat after cooking. Still, you have to stop dumping it in the sink. First, when it solidifies, it can clog your drain and damage your pipes. Second, solidified animal fat like bacon grease can attract bugs and rodents, so wait until it cools down and put it in the garbage. Or google “uses for leftover bacon fat” to find recipes that’ll clog your arteries instead of your pipes.

“Don’t Crowd the Mushrooms!”

Beloved American culinary goddess Julia Child uttered this phrase decades ago. Still, overcrowding remains still a major sin committed by home chefs. When sautéing and frying anything in a pan, make sure every piece touches the pan and sears so it reaches peak flavor and doesn’t turn to mush, even if that means taking the time to cook in batches.

Let It Be

Grilling a gorgeous steak? Charring up some chicken thighs? Sautéing shrimp scampi? Frying green tomatoes? No matter what you’re cooking, treat it like a friend who’s fresh on the heels of a bad breakup and needs some space right now: leave it alone. Constantly stirring and flipping your food keeps your dishes from browning and breaks it apart leaving it tasteless and soft. Use a timer and rely on your eyes and your ears to do it right. Then, keep your hands to yourself until everything’s fully cooked.

Raw and Cooked Meat Can’t Hang

We all know raw meat can carry harmful bacteria. What’s less understood is how to follow simple guidelines to avoid contamination from that bacteria. The first rule is to never place cooked meat where raw meat used to be. When you’re cooking in tight kitchen spaces with a limited number of surfaces, you’ll be tempted to cheat a little. But you’re risking turning your dinner party into a digestive disaster. Plan ahead and be precise.

Wash cutting boards with hot water and soap immediately after you use them. Keep a clean platter ready to be brought to the stove or grill before your burgers, chicken thighs or salmon filets get near fire.